Until the middle of the 17th century, our ancestors occupied a vast territory straddling part of what is now of the United States from Detroit as far south as Oklahoma , south-eastern Ontario Penetangueshene and Midland and Quebec; they hunted and trapped throughout this territory mainly in the Laurentian Mountains, between the central section of the St. Maurice River and the Saguenay. Between and , the Wyandot Confederation was dismembered; its families, having been gathered into four 4 or five 5 tribes, were dispersed. It is estimated that the Huron population totalled approximately 20, to 30, people in By , only a few hundred individuals remained. Most of the rest had been decimated by epidemics or had perished over the previous twenty 20 years in wars involving Hurons and Iroquois, French and British.
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Lawrence Valley and estuary to the Great Lakes region. Following a series of 17th century armed conflicts, the Huron-Wendat were dispersed by the Haudenosaunee in However, the Huron-Wendat First Nation still remains located in Wendake, Quebec and as of July , the nation had 4, registered members. At the time of the destruction of the Huron-Wendat homeland sometimes known as Huronia by the Haudenosaunee, in , about Huron-Wendat left Georgian Bay to seek refuge close to the French, in the Quebec City region.
Pre-contact Life Riverside activities The Huron-Wendat lived in 18 to 25 villages, some with up to 3, people. Hunting was of minor importance except in the fall and late winter, and occurred well beyond the boundaries of occupied territory. At the time of French contact in the early 17th century, these efficient farmers occupied a territory of about km2, referred to by the Huron-Wendat as Wendake, achieving an average population density of 23 people per km2.
Larger villages were well-fortified with palisades. Villages usually stood on a slight rise, adjacent to a permanent water supply and close to good farming soils. Every 10 to 15 years, when soils and firewood were exhausted, the Huron-Wendat would relocate.
Society and Culture The Huron-Wendat traced descent and inheritance through the female line. As among all the Iroquoian nations, the fundamental socioeconomic group was the matrilineal-extended family, made up of a number of nuclear families whose female members traced common descent to a mother or grandmother, who was in charge of daily affairs. The extended family lived in longhouses , which were about 7 m wide and varied in length with the size of the family.
Houses up to 90 m in length have been reported from archaeological work. Huron-Wendat individuals belonged to one of eight matrilineal clans. The strength of the clan system was that members, no matter in what village or nation they lived, were obliged to help each other in time of need or war.
Village affairs were run by two councils, one in charge of civil affairs, and the other of war. All men over the age of 30 were members. In theory, matters were decided by consensus, but in reality, the old men and elected chiefs of large families tended to dominate because of their community standing and powers of oratory.
Unlike the older female members of the Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat women had little or no say in councils. Language The Huron-Wendat language is part of the Iroquoian linguistic family. After years of dispersals and the subsequent colonization of Canada, the Huron-Wendat language nearly went extinct. Still considered endangered, the language is being revitalized by Huron-Wendat peoples through a variety of educational programs and initiatives, including a dictionary.
See also Indigenous Languages in Canada. In order to forge closer trade relations and obtain military aid from the French, the Huron-Wendat accepted missionaries.
The Huron-Wendat rejected this request because they considered marriage a matter between two individuals and their families, and not subject to council decision.
By the mids, the Huron-Wendat had become one of the most important suppliers of furs to the French. Lawrence , and later exchanging the fur for French goods. Responses to the crisis varied. Among the Huron-Wendat, a divisive debate ensued whether to keep the missionaries and remain allied with the French, or to sever all ties.
The majority felt they were too deeply committed and hoped eventually for French military aid. The logical method for replacement was through warfare against neighbouring groups with similar cultures. In and , armed with Dutch firearms, they defeated and dispersed the Huron-Wendat; followed by the Petun in —50, the Neutral by and the Erie by During these wars, about half the post- epidemic Huron-Wendat population was decimated.
Reduced by famine and cold, only were left in the spring of This group, composed largely of Petun, was later called the Wyandot Wyandotte in the United States , an English corruption of the word Wendat. By the mids they were in Green Bay and, joined by a village of Odawa , moved into the headwaters of the Mississippi. In the Wyandot and Odawa settled near the newly established Detroit In , the Wyandot split into two factions in a quarrel with the Odawa and French. One faction moved to Sandusky and in into the Ohio Valley, while the other moved across the river from Detroit.